As a business owner, you want to protect your assets. If your company uses trucks to deliver cargo, you know how devastating truck accidents can be.
To protect yourself, you only hire the best of the best. You follow the guidelines for how your truckers operate the trucks, how long they spend driving before taking a break, and ensure all trucks undergo routine maintenance.
Even if you do everything right, accidents can happen. After all, that’s why they’re called accidents.
What your driver does at the scene after the accident and what actions you take can affect the impact of the accident on your company. Keep reading to learn more about what to do if your driver gets into an accident.
The First Thing to Do After Truck Accidents: Make Sure Everyone’s Okay
If one of your drivers is in an accident, the first thing they need to do is make sure everyone involved is safe.
Your driver should call 911, even if no one is hurt; the authorities will bring medical help if needed and will make sure everyone is protected from oncoming traffic.
Your drivers should have at least a basic knowledge of first aid and should be instructed not to move anyone involved in the accident. The exception is if they are in immediate danger of fire or further injury.
Make sure your drivers know to apply pressure to stop bleeding. Once the emergency responders arrive, they will take over the medical care of the injured.
Step Two: Check the Cargo
The most important thing is making sure everyone is safe. After they’ve done this, your driver should check the cargo they’re carrying.
Some cargo is dangerous or a threat to the environment. Your driver should make sure it’s not damaged.
Make sure they are properly trained on the protocol of preventing any spills. If the cargo has spilled and needs cleaned up, use flares to warn oncoming traffic to avoid the area.
Doing this will also help prevent additional accidents at the crash scene. When the authorities arrive, they will set up a better roadblock while they clean up the mess.
Once it is safe to do so, the driver should take photos of the accident scene. The insurance company will need these.
Step Three: Report the Accident
Once your driver has gotten to a safe place, they need to contact you right away.
It’s up to you whether you want your drivers to contact your insurance company or if you want to contact the insurance company on their behalf. Make sure your drivers clearly understand your policy when it comes to reporting the accident.
Your insurance company needs to be notified as soon as possible. If your drivers are independent contractors, they should have insurance for the loads and the bodily injury and property damage that may have occurred.
Even if your drivers carry their own insurance, you should report the accident to your insurance company, as you may be sued as well as the driver.
You should then take care of your driver by making sure they are sent a new truck or someone who can pick up the cargo and complete the delivery.
Step Four: The Investigation
Your driver, especially if they are an employee of your company, will work closely with your insurance company throughout the investigation process.
Prepare your drivers to explain exactly what happened and answer any questions the claims adjuster may have. They will likely request the driver’s mile and rest logs and a description of the road conditions at the time.
If your driver took photos of the accident scene, be sure these are provided to the insurance company.
If you or your driver are sued, things may become more complicated. You may have to provide information about the accident to your defense counsel as well as counsel for the plaintiff. Here’s some more information about truck accident litigation.
Step Five: Company Policy
Your company should have clear policies in place for your drivers after an accident.
For example, if the accident is serious, you may want to review the CDL qualifications of the driver.
The most important thing is ensuring your drivers are compliant with the police investigation. They should not only work with police officers at the scene of the accident, but they should be willing to take blood and alcohol tests that might be administered.
Assuming your company was following the rules and regulations set forth for truck drivers, you shouldn’t worry. You can reassure your driver and provide support for them as they work through the insurance claims process.
Of course, you may need to file a claim on your own insurance policy for damage to the truck. If your driver was not at fault, you may be able to recover damages from the at-fault party.
The bottom line? While prevention is worth more than a cure, accidents do happen. Chances are your drivers will spend many hours on the road in a variety of conditions. Some factors are beyond their control.
More Small Business Wisdom
Truck accidents are an unfortunate reality for many small businesses. The best thing you can do is retain top talent and adhere strictly to the rules of the road.
If an accident does happen, knowing what to expect and making sure your drivers are on the same page can go a long way.
If you are sued – don’t panic. Your insurance company and defense counsel will take care of you.
For more articles for small business owners, check out the rest of our blog.